Tokyo electric dreams and realities from Honda

  • 23-Nov-2009 01:08 EST
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Honda’s CR-Z Concept 2009 is the 2010 CR-Z production prototype in thin disguise, having fancier headlamps and taillamps, flush door pulls, ultra-low-profile tires, and some interior glitter.

Honda’s battery-electrified modes of transport on display at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show included four-, two-, and one-wheel concept vehicles, ranging from small-ish to very small.

The EV-N looks like a grown-up version of one of the thumb-size, caricatured ChoroQ toy car series known as Penny Racers outside Japan. It is obviously modeled after the N360/600 mini car of the sixties, the 1967 N600 being the first Honda to be imported into the vast expanse of the U.S.

Instead of the original N’s two-cylinder air-cooled engine or ChoroQ’s pull-back spring motive power, the two-plus-two EV-N is properly propelled by a front-mounted motor, electric energy supplied by an underfloor lithium-ion battery pack. The solar-panel roof supplements electricity to minimal essential comfort and convenient equipment, according to Honda. Each of the two conventional doors accommodates a U3-X electric unicycle for further puttering around.

The car signals pedestrians its quiet approach by sequentially lighting lamps within the grille. The Japanese government will likely mandate in a year’s time that new electric and hybrid vehicles on electric mode be equipped with sound-emitting devices, more likely virtual ICE or cooling fan noise that warns pedestrians of their approach in narrow, mixed, and congested traffic.

The EV-N measures 2860 mm (112.6 in) long on a 1995-mm (78.5 in) wheelbase. It is 1475 mm (58.1 in) wide and 1515 mm (59.6 in) tall.

The smallest Honda concept is the U3-X electric unicycle powered by a lithium-ion battery pack. Balance is maintained by Asimo humanoid robot technology, according to Honda. The single wheel is actually multiple small wheels on a single large wheel, the main wheel driving the device forward and backward, and the other wheels sideways and diagonally. A folding seat and footrest support the rider. Honda claims the U3-X can operate for up to one hour on a fully charged battery.

The EV-Cub is an electric version of the latest “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” step-through bike. Front and rear in-wheel motors propel the lightweight, die-cast, aluminum-frame bike. The energy source is a lithium-ion battery pack.

Another electric two-wheel concept is the EVE-neo scooter, fit for “survival in the urban jungle,” says Honda. The rear-brushless-motor-drive scooter looks ready for the adventure.

The EV-Monpal is a styled and lithium-ion-battery-powered version of the production electric wheelchair. Honda proposes an inter-vehicle-people communication system called Loop, connecting these electric vehicles and devices.

Honda’s CR-Z Concept 2009 is the 2010 CR-Z production prototype under thin disguise, comprising fancier headlamps and taillamps, flush door pulls, ultra-low-profile tires, and some interior glitter.

The company is not releasing the car’s technical details except that it is powered by a 1.5-L i-VTEC (intelligent variable valve timing and lift electronic control) engine combined with the hybrid IMA (integrated motor assist). In the concept’s case, the engine combines cam-switching VTEC and continuously variable timing control (VTC) on the intake side, which is currently applied to one of the company’s 2.0-L units. Obviously the new engine will be sportier than the i-DSI (intelligent dual sequential ignition) type as employed in the Civic Hybrid and Insight. Honda will offer a manual six-speed transmission choice on the CRZ. The front-wheel-drive 2+2 coupe is 4080 mm (160.6 in) long on a 2435-mm (95.9-in) wheelbase, 1740 mm (68.5 in) wide, and 1350 mm (53.1 in) tall.

Honda has been successful with the Japanese Odyssey minivan series, which is a smaller model than the U.S. version. It is a crossover between a tall minivan and a wagon, yet accommodates up to seven people in three-row seating.

The Skydeck hybrid concept is a futuristic interpretation of the theme, appropriately called a “multi-purpose 6-seater.” The aerodynamic monoform vehicle squats at a low 1500-mm (59.1-in) overall height and is 4620 mm (181.9 in) long and 1750 mm (68.9 in) wide. The center-pillarless body features front upswinging gull-wing doors and rear down-and-rearward sliding doors for easy entry and exit to/from the second and third rows. Its ultrathin and lightweight second-row seat electrically slides underneath the central-tunnel-mounted front seat, and the third-row seats fold flat into the floor, creating a large cargo space.

The hybrid system, comprising battery pack and controller, is placed at midship within the tall center tunnel, as with the FCX Clarity’s fuel-cell system. No technical details are revealed of the hybrid system; however, it is likely a variation of the ICE/IMA type.

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